I wrote this in 2010, and published an anonymous blog on a friend’s great website, Pavo. Pizza Pie Chronicles only ran for a few months. I’ve decided I can break my anonymity now and republish under my own name. I will always be grateful to all my customers and my coworkers who were incredibly patient with me, my language issues, my vision problems and cognitive lapses. I stopped delivering pizzas about three years ago; it’s very hard work and I’m glad I don’t have unlimited access to pizza anymore.
For more than 25 years, my motto has been “I’ll write anything for money.” I’ve written speeches, tour guide scripts, love poems, limericks, shampoo bottles, even a historical marker, and made anywhere from 20c to $1 per word. But a lot has changed in the world of writing. Now there are writers working for 2-3c per word, and they’re a dime a dozen — just google “writer.”
It’s a brave new world. I’m willing to compete for my piece of the pie. I tossed off some short pieces on environmentally friendly cleaning products, wrote some longer papers on the hazards of breathing, and may even have inadvertently contributed to a term paper or two. But my mortgage banker, the power company and the grocery store weren’t too happy with the dramatic rate decline. No matter how hard I tugged at either end of my budget, the ends just weren’t meeting up.
Like the old horse in Animal Farm, I decided I just needed to work harder. Casting in wider and wider circles, I began looking at any kind of writing jobs. Writing content for websites means being given a list of search terms and working those in as often as possible while still making some vague kind of sense. Comprehension and style take a back seat. Actually, they’re relegated to the trunk, if they hitch a ride at all. But I gave it a shot. It still wasn’t enough work.
Advertising on Craig’s List brought one response that sounded great. The company was “looking for honest people with a keen eye for detail to visit various adult sites online and write the things they like and dislike about each.” Now, I’m not squeamish. I’ve written some pretty racy limericks. I even modeled nude for an art class a long, long time ago. Adult magazines don’t automatically earn my moral outrage. The job paid $350 a week.
So I held my nose and navigated to the site. Looking a little closer…I discovered I didn’t want to look at all. The ad asked interested writers to review the website “Celebrities Exposed.” Just a glance showed famous faces photoshopped onto naked bodies. For some reason, that turned my stomach even more than anonymous nudie poses. It seemed like an even more outrageous invasion of privacy. I mean, at least give me the dignity of my own sagging butt.
I closed my browser. I just couldn’t do it. A couple days later, I was sorting through the mail. Power bill, credit card payment, mortgage payment overdue. Maybe I could write those reviews after all. It could be an interesting challenge. How many different ways could I say “what a hottie”? I went back to the exposed celebrity site.
Sitting in front of my computer, faint feelings of nausea arose again. Would I want my son to know what I was working on? I don’t let him see R rated movies now, but at some point he will. Would there ever be a point where I’d want my children to read what I wrote for these adult content blogs?
Nope. I just couldn’t do it, no matter how badly I needed the money. I wouldn’t ever want my kids to see that kind of work. Finally there was something I would not write, for any amount of money. And that’s when I decided to seek my first “real job” in 25 years. I would deliver pizza.